Woman says Suicide Cliff fatality is her missing husband

Woman says DPS told them it takes 1 year to identify body using DNA testing

A woman has asked the Superior Court to give her another option in identifying the body that was found in a car that plunged off Suicide Cliff last Dec. 8, 2020, after the Department of Public Safety informed her that it will take a year to identify the body through DNA testing.

Marilou B. Ortega, who is a permanent resident in the CNMI, believes that the man who died in that fatal plunge was her husband, Jessie Ruiz Ortega, with whom she has two children.

Marilou and Jessie Ortega are owners of Ortega Corp., which owns real property and other businesses in the CNMI.

Robert Torres, representing Marilou Ortega as counsel, asked the court to grant her request to serve as administratrix of Jessie Ortega’s estate.

Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho will hear Marilou Ortega’s request on Feb. 4, 2021.

Marilou Ortega said that prior to Jessie Ortega’s disappearance, he was going through severe distress regarding a business matter and, in fact, had sought legal assistance from Torres prior to Dec. 8.

A Department of Public Safety report said that a vehicle drove off of Suicide Cliff last Dec. 8 at 4:30pm and that the vehicle was a black 2007 Toyota Tacoma pickup with license plate ACX-444.

Torres said that, according to DPS, the vehicle had a lone occupant who was killed and whose remains are pending identification.

Torres said that Jessie Ortega has been missing since Dec. 8 and his whereabouts remain unknown. Torres said that Marilou Ortega had her last contact with her husband on that day, Dec. 8, and he has not returned home nor has he had any contact with anyone since then. Torres said the Toyota pickup truck was owned and registered to Jessie Ortega.

Torres said that DPS is trying to coordinate identification of the remains found at Suicide Cliff either through DNA or dental records. The body remains at the morgue of the Commonwealth Health Center.

However, the lawyer said, DPS is saying that the process in requesting DNA verification may take approximately one year. Torres suggests alternate and expeditious options for verification of the remains as those of Jessie Ortega.

Torres said that because Jessie Ortega has been absent for a continuous period, during which has not been heard from and the person’s absence is not satisfactorily explained after diligent search or inquiry, the circumstances amount to evidence of his death.

He said Jessie Ortega owned 90,000 shares of the family-owned Ortega Corp. and that Marilou Ortega owns 10,000 shares (10%). Torres said the corporation operates a small construction company, JMJ Construction, with two pending small renovation projects with Eliceo Cabrera and Shawnalei Ogumoro.

He said Ortega Corp. has a checking account with First Hawaiian Bank under Ortega Corp. JMJ Construction, and a checking account at the Bank of Hawaii.

The company employs seven workers, several of whom are CW-1 workers subject to renewal.

Ortega Corp. also has a business license for a fishing venture with two boats and a business, Tomas Fish Mobile, in Chalan Kanoa.

Torres said the company has receivables due approximately $65,000 from the Public School System for completed projects/contracts.

He said the company’s liabilities are a $25,000 loan with the Small Business Administration that was taken last November, a $5,000 loan balance with Isla Financial from the purchase of a boat engine from Joeten Motors, and CNMI Gross Revenue Taxes due.

Ortega Corp. owns several vehicles and construction equipment.

Jessie Ortega is the sole proprietor of JMJ Apartment Rental that operates five apartment units in Upper Chinatown.

Ortega Corp. also owns real properties—512 square meters in Chalan Kanoa on a 25-year lease, a leased lot in Dandan where the family lives, as well as the corporation’s business office.

Torres said the company also leased for 55 years a lot in Marpo Heights on Tinian, where Jessie Ortega used to house his employees when they had projects for PSS on that island.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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